Electronica: Vision of Sound returns for its fifth year running. Presented by The Czech Centre, The Liszt Institute, and The Slovak Embassy, the event showcased up-and-coming European acts Jimmy Pé (SK), IAMYANK (HU) and Omnion (CZ).
Walking through the double doors into the event space at Rich Mix, I immediately notice the big screen in the centre of the room. People are gathered watching video-game-style animations. In the short clips tarantulas crawl through the undergrowth, robocops march through a deserted city, astronauts collect glowing orbs…
Have I walked into the avant-garde film screening by mistake? Then, on the side of the room, I spot a cool-looking DJ bopping behind some decks. It seems I am in the right place. He raises his hands in the air and In Da Ghetto fades in.
Tonight’s opening act is Jimmy Pé, a producer and beatmaker hailing from Bratislava, Slovakia, who combines high-energy sets with cutting-edge visuals.
“WOMP-WOMP-WOMP” the bass thuds. It’s possibly a little intense for the opening act, although fortunately, he saves up the hard-style techno until the end, when everyone is more warmed up. Upon reflection, maybe the video game visuals are a good idea; it gives the sober crowd something to focus on.
That said, his exuberant energy behind the decks and slick transitions between reggae, pop, and deep house make it a decent set.
Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and composer iamyank released his debut album Hiraeth in 2016, an ambient meditation on electronica. In the years that followed, he collaborated with Ukrainian pianist Lubomyr Melnyk, released a solo piano record, and, in 2022, released the sorely underrated ambient album Environmental Music for Libri Bookstores. His remix of fellow Hungarian Дeva’s Witchcraft spread his name to new audiences.
Since then, the Hungarian artist has turned his hand to a new sound; think less relaxation and more industrial noise.
“I don’t normally talk before a show, but I think it’s important to contextualise this…” iamyank stands at the centre of the stage. To either side of him, two drummers with shaved heads dressed in black, sit facing each other at their respective kits.
“…because it will be heavy.”
His latest release Láttam a jövőt meghalni translates to I Had Seen Future Dying.
“It sounds pessimistic but actually it’s beautiful.” He continues. “If we accept a dead future, we can focus on what’s happening now.”
“So enjoy… or something like that.”
iamyank doesn’t go for the heavy industrial noise straight away, rather he builds a cinematic soundscape. One drummer rolls soft mallets, the other lightly taps the cymbals with his fingers.
Then the tonalities shift, more loops are triggered and the pace shifts to slow ritualistic drumming. The unsettling and dystopian atmosphere creeps up on the listener gradually. The future really is dying.
Halfway through, the musician takes off his shirt, and starts rocks forward and back. He chants in Hungarian. The drums start pounding, red strobe lights flash and he raises his voice, shouting into the mic. It appears we have reached the post-metal section of the show.
The track ends and this seems to snap the audience out of their trance to start clapping and cheering – the past 30 minutes have seen them listen in enraptured silence as one piece glided into another.
The performance escalates further as he pounds out big riffs on the bass guitar, then heads bangs playing two keyboards at once. Meanwhile, the cymbals clatter and a giant stone lion rotates on the screen, its glowing yellow eyes boring into the audience. It’s a lot to take in.
iamyank’s music is often labelled futuristic and experimentalist, but equally, it’s informed by a subtle understanding of timeless musical sensibilities, capable of eliciting deep emotion.
Perhaps, he’s right, enjoyment isn’t the right word here.
Rather, this is a mesmerising and visceral sonic experience.
Finally, Omnion closes the night. Self-described as “a one-man-self-looping-orchestra”, the Czech musician performs his trance-inducing blend of modern electronica meets sacred musical traditions.